A good friend asked me to help him improve his aquarium. He was talking about decorations, but after doing some homework, I'm much more concerned about stocking issues.
Filter: Magnum 350 canister filter
Maintenance: Weekly 50% WC with Prime conditioner
Parameters: Unknown. Waiting until I can get over there with test kit.
Decor: Black sand with fake plants, some rocks, and ancient ruins decor. Minimal hiding space.
1 Common Pleco 9"
1 Red Tail Shark 4"
1 Jack Dempsey 7"
2 Yellow Lab 4"
1 Red Peacock 4"
1 Convict 4"
2 Electric Blue Johannii 4"
I know this list looks bad, but somehow it's been working for 2+ years. He's got a Jack Dempsey mixed with Mbuna mixed with Malawi mixed with a shark and a pleco. That said, the fish look great and they seem to get along remarkably well. The only rule he's followed in stocking the tank is the 1:1 inch-to-gallon ratio, so he thinks he's in good shape with about 45" of fish.
Recently, he asked me to come up with a budget and a plan to help him decorate his tank. I was planning to float some water sprite, stack some nice rocks, and add a big hunk of driftwood for the pleco, but now I wonder if he has bigger problems on his hands.
I hesitate to even discuss the stocking issue because he does really love these fish. Aside from the hodgepodge assembly of seemingly random tankmates, he takes very good care of them! He's not going to accept the suggestion to remove any of these fish from this situation.
That leads me to my question: Since I'm 99% sure he'll tune me out if I even try to talk about restocking, what can I do with a reasonable decor budget in order to make things better for his fish?